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Apple Reportedly Faces 9 Million EU Fine As Spotify-Spurred Antitrust Investigation Draws to a Close

apple eu fine

A $539 million Apple EU fine is reportedly scheduled to be announced in early March. Photo Credit: Medhat Dawoud

The European Union is reportedly preparing to slap Apple with an almost $540 million fine stemming from an antitrust complaint filed by Spotify half a decade ago.

This result of the European Commission’s years-running investigation into Apple’s business practices, of which Spotify and CEO Daniel Ek have long been vocal critics, just recently entered the media spotlight in a Financial Times report.

We’ve covered the multifaceted showdown, including a decidedly public war of words between the companies, since its start. (For a detailed refresher, check out the summary we penned last month.) In the interest of relative brevity, the noted complaint centered on Apple’s App Store “tax,” developer-user communication limits, and the competition-related byproducts of both points.

It appears that some of these qualms will be addressed when the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) implementation deadline arrives next month – though Apple’s proposals for complying with the law have elicited pushback from Spotify.

Bearing in mind the DMA compliance cutoff, which impacts the likes of Google and Amazon as well, the European Commission (the EU’s executive body) in connection with Spotify’s complaint formally accused the iPhone manufacturer of “distorting competition in the music streaming market” back in 2021.

And in February of 2023, the Commission further zeroed in on streaming – and particularly the Cupertino-based business’s alleged practice of stopping developers “from informing iPhone and iPad users of alternative music subscription options at lower prices outside of the app.”

It’s against this backdrop that the Apple Music operator is reportedly staring down a penalty “in the region of” €500 million (currently $538.9 million), according to the mentioned outlet, which cited “five people with direct knowledge of” the Spotify-spurred investigation.

The sizable fine will be announced in “early” March, per the same report, though the Commission hadn’t commented publicly on the matter at the time of this writing. Nevertheless, one source elaborated that the EU is poised to emphasize “‘unfair trading conditions’” from Apple when handing down the more than half-billion-dollar charge.

Of course, it’ll be worth closely monitoring the situation and the overarching dispute moving forward; the latter is showing few signs of abating. In terms of how the marathon episode will affect Spotify users, the company has made clear that it’s teeing up a dramatically different app experience in Europe.

Not for a lack of trying – including Ek’s in-person efforts in Washington to drum up congressional support for the Open App Markets Act – the Stockholm-based entity hasn’t achieved the desired legislative results in the U.S. On Friday, Spotify shares cracked a new 52-week high of $248.67 apiece.

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